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Policing in America: Future and Challenges Essay

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Updated: May 12th, 2021

The United States Department of Justice

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is a branch of the US government that serves the role of law enforcement and justice administration. The department was constituted in 1870 and is responsible for conducting investigations on matters such as financial fraud, running the federal prison system, and handling the government’s legal matters. It is comprised of many agencies that perform different functions.

Four of the agencies include the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Prisons, and the Bureau of Alcohol. Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The FBI protects and defends the US, enforces criminal laws, and provides criminal justice services to other government agencies (Ferguson, 2017). The DEA monitors and prevents the use, sale, and distribution of illegal substances in the US. The Bureau of Prisons administers the federal prison systems and deals with inmates who are accused of violating federal law (Ferguson, 2017).

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosive protects communities from violent crime, firearm use and trafficking, the proliferation of criminal organizations, terrorism, illegal use of tobacco and alcohol, and the illegal use of explosives (Ferguson, 2017). Among these, the FBI has the greatest responsibility with regard to law enforcement because it conducts investigations and shares the information with other law enforcement agencies.

The UCR and the NCIC

The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) is a program of the FBI that involves the compilation of crime data received from law enforcement agencies across the nation (Ferguson, 2017). On the other hand, the National Crimes Information Centre (NCIC) provides information that aids in the tracking of criminals, fugitives, missing persons, identify terrorists, and locate stolen property (Gaines & Kappeler, 2014).

In addition, it provides information that enhances public safety and that assists law enforcers to perform their duties safely and effectively. The accuracy of the UCR is pegged on the likelihood and willingness of people to report crimes to the police. Its accuracy is highest for murders and lowest for crimes such as rape and assault, which are not always reported (Gaines & Kappeler, 2014). Less serious crimes such as minor theft are usually underrepresented because many cases are not reported. In contrast, major thefts are overrepresented because people are likely to report such cases to the police.

Mintzberg Model of Chief Executive Officers

According to the Mintzberg model of executive officers, the roles of police executives are threefold: decisional, interpersonal, and informational (Schedlitzki & Edwards, 2014). The interpersonal role involves the application of communication and interaction skills. These social skills encompass persuasion, delegation, leadership, listening, and non-verbal communication. The informational role includes monitoring, inspecting, information dissemination, and being the spokesperson (Schedlitzki & Edwards, 2014). It is the responsibility of an executive officer to monitor the dissemination of information and act as the spokesperson of the force or agency. In that regard, he/she delivers information both to the public and to members of various departments (Schedlitzki & Edwards, 2014).

The decision-making role involves deciding on important law-enforcement matters. The interpersonal role is the most important for a chief executive officer’s success because it involves interaction with both offices and members of the community. It is important for a chief executive officer to possess the ability to communicate and interact with people on a daily basis. To lead communities, officers, and teams, a police executive requires interpersonal skills.

Legislative Enactments to Combat Terrorism

September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks led to the strengthening of the United State’s war against terrorism. In light of the happenings, several laws were enacted and several others were amended to make them more effective in deterring terrorism. Examples of two legislative enactments against terrorism are the USA Patriot Act and the Homeland security Act.

The USA Patriot Act

The Act was enacted into law as a response to the September 11 attacks. It increased the mandate of federal officials in the tracking and interception of communications for purposes of intelligence gathering and law enforcement (Crenshaw & LaFree, 2017). It gives the Secretary of the Treasury power to investigate and combat money laundering. The legislation deters and punishes terrorist acts by combating money laundering, strengthening law enforcement tools, and punishing terrorists in the US and other parts of the world (Crenshaw & LaFree, 2017).

The Homeland Security Act

The enactment of this legislation resulted in the creation of the United States Department of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Homeland Security. Its main role is to prevent terrorist attacks within the US, protect the country from attacks, and minimize damages that accrue from terrorist attacks (Crenshaw & LaFree, 2017). It also gives the secretary of Homeland Security power to conduct investigations into terrorist activities.

I believe that the aforementioned legislative enactments have been effective in combating terrorism because the number of attacks has decreased significantly since their enactment into law. I think the decrease in terrorist attacks has resulted from increased surveillance and monitoring of individuals, improved collection and dissemination of intelligence among law enforcement agencies, and increased monitoring of the financial transactions of individuals and organizations suspected of involvement in terrorism. These laws have strict safeguards that ensure that they do not violate the civil liberties of Americans.

Problems Related to Determining the Numbers of Hate Crimes

The FBI relies on information received from other law enforcement agencies to identify, report, and compile hate crimes. However, the information received is inaccurate because many agencies do not execute their roles as expected by law. For example, in 2016, only 6, 121 cases of hate crime were reported by local law enforcement agencies. In contrast, the National Crime Victimization Survey revealed that there are approximately 250,000 potential hare crimes annually.

The incongruence reveals the inadequacy of the FBI’s data. A key challenge is determining the number of hate crimes is the unwillingness of victims to report to law enforcement officers (Gaines & Kappeler, 2014). Another challenge is information dissemination between the law enforcement agencies and the FBI. For example, some departments fail to submit their information on hate crimes to the FBI due to system breakdown. Another challenge is the existence of differences in how states define hate crimes. The varied definitions among states result in the undercount, hence the inadequate data (Altschiller, 2015).

For example, the state of Alabama’s hate-crime statute does not include sexual orientation as a basis for a hate crime (Altschiller, 2015). Poor police training is also a challenge because many cases are discarded because police officers are unable to classify them properly. Many cases are not investigated because authorities miss crucial indicators that could have qualified them as hate crimes (Altschiller, 2015). Poor classification of crimes has resulted in an inaccurate determination of the actual number of hate crimes.

Hate crimes are different from other crimes because they cause more harm as they affect the individual, his/her group or community, and society (Altschiller, 2015). Hate crimes cause both emotional and psychological injuries to the victim as they are perpetrated for personal reasons that include sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, race, or religion (Gaines & Kappeler, 2014). Moreover, hate crimes are insidious because the reasons that fuel them cannot be changed or altered for decreased vulnerability to attacks. The vulnerability of individuals to hate crimes is higher than their vulnerability to other crimes.

Research has shown that victims of hate crimes experience intense psychological symptoms that involve depression, anxiety, and helplessness (Altschiller, 2015). The impact of hate crimes is not limited to individuals but also affects the victim’s group or community. Members of the victim’s group perceive an attack against one of them as an attack against them all (Altschiller, 2015). Hate crimes also affect the welfare of society because of a violation of the rights of its members. In that regard, a hate crime violates the egalitarian ideal and the antidiscrimination rule that are components of the American culture and the legal system.

Conclusion

The United States Department of Justice enforces the law and administers justice. It comprises many agencies, one of which is the FBI. The FBI conducts investigations o criminal activities and shares information with other law enforcement agencies. The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) are programs that are administered by the FBI that aid in law enforcement. A police executive serves several roles that encompass interpersonally, communication, and decision-making components. Interpersonal skills are important for the success of a chief executive officer.

Laws such as the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act have been effective in averting terrorism. The determination of the number of hate crimes is challenging because of factors such as poor police training, differences in the definition of hate crimes by states, and the unwillingness of victims to report crimes to authorities. These factors have resulted in inadequate reporting and determination of the actual number of hate crimes.

References

Altschiller, D. (2015). Hate crimes: A reference handbook (3rd ed.). New York, NY: ABC-CLIO.

Crenshaw, M., & LaFree, G. (2017). Countering terrorism. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.

Ferguson, A. G. (2017). The rise of big data policing: Surveillance, race, and the future of law enforcement. New York, NY: New York University press.

Gaines, L. K., & Kappeler, V. E. (2014). Policing in America (8th ed.). New York, NY: Anderson Publishing.

Schedlitzki, D., & Edwards, G. (2014). Studying leadership: Traditional and critical approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE publications.

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1. IvyPanda. "Policing in America: Future and Challenges." May 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/policing-in-america-future-and-challenges/.


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IvyPanda. 2021. "Policing in America: Future and Challenges." May 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/policing-in-america-future-and-challenges/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Policing in America: Future and Challenges'. 12 May.

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